Story: What a humbling experience it is, to be dwarfed by a Giant Manta! Such grace, such power, such….size! The pinnacle of hydrodynamics, they appear to not be exerting any effort at all, yet even with practiced kick form, my maximum effort is but a joke to their casual cruising speed.
New research has shown mantas to have incredibly high intelligence, problem-solving abilities, complex social behaviors, empathy, and potentially self-awareness (a test involving mirrors). Not surprising, considering they have the largest brains of any fish. But that research only proves what I’ve known for many years, through many encounters, in many parts of the world. I’ve had mantas crave attention. I’ve had them make extended eye contact. I’ve had them seek help when tangled in fishing line, and show genuine appreciation when freed.
This giant manta (Mobula birostris) was found by chance off the coast of Mexico, and allowed me to swim alongside it for over an hour. After I was completely exhausted, I returned to the boat, and flew my drone over it, capturing some extraordinary aerial shots as well.